When one thinks of royal Scottish boltholes one's thoughts automatically veer towards Balmoral. However, there is a castle near the remote village of Mey in the far north of Scotland which in 1952 captured the imagination of the recently bereaved Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. Hearing that Barrogill Castle, as it was then called, was destined for abandonment, she decided to save it, and it became her summer residence. Nowadays, the Castle and Gardens of Mey are open to visitors from the beginning of May to the end of September. The castle dates back to the 16th century, having been built by George, the 4th Earl of Caithness.
The Merry Men of Mey are not a group of whisky-sodden local males, but a treacherous coastal feature in the Pentland Firth, the stretch of water separating the Orkneys from the Scottish mainland. A tidal race which forms off the rocks known as the Men of Mey, the Merry Men at their most violent consist of large waves forming suddenly and coming from various directions, making this stretch of water very dangerous to negotiate.
Map of the area.
© 2008 Thomas Froese, via Wikimedia Commons